Below you can find a complete list of types of animals in Ireland. We currently track 212 animals in the country and add more every day!
Toward the end of the last Ice Age, some 2.6 million years ago, rising sea levels cut Ireland off from the European mainland. This led to the evolution of some uniquely adapted animals on the Emerald Isle, Ireland’s nickname for its immense greenery. Twenty-six terrestrial mammals are native to Ireland, including the Irish hare, the Irish stoat, the Irish grey partridge, and ten species of bats. Though well over 450 unique bird species call Ireland home for at least part of the year, all but two of these species are migratory.
Far more animal species flourished in Ireland throughout the Ice Age, including the wooly mammoth, the wild horse, the Irish elk (also called giant deer), and a brown bear species thought by biologists to be an ancestor to today’s polar bear. It’s likely that predatory human hunting contributed to these animals’ extinction.
The Official National Animal of Ireland
There’s some controversy over Ireland’s national animal. Many people think it should be the Irish elk; however, this species is extinct.
The next best choice is the Irish hare, which is the only lagomorph native to Ireland. Irish hares are significantly larger than rabbits, weighing as much as 8 pounds. They’re famous for the predatory boxing behavior they display during early spring as part of their mating rituals. It’s likely that the famous March hare in “Alice in Wonderland” was intended to be an Irish hare.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals
While some Irish fauna like the red fox, the badger, the otter, and the pygmy shrew is fairly evenly distributed throughout the island, others like the Irish hare, the red deer, and the pine marten are more likely to be found in one of Ireland’s six national parks and numerous nature preserves:
- Wicklow Mountains: Protected fauna in the Wicklow Mountains National Park include otters, bats, and endangered bird species such as the whooper swan and the peregrine falcon.
- The Burren: If you want to glimpse the pine marten in its native habitat, the place to go is Burren National Park in County Clare.
- Killarney: In 1981, County Kerry’s Killarney National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The yew and oak woodlands comprising this park are some of the only forests remaining on the island and home to Ireland’s only indigenous herd of red deer.
- Glenveagh: Golden eagles were thought to be extinct in Ireland for many years. Then a breeding pair was sighted, and in 2000, this endemic bird species was reintroduced in Glenveagh National Park where it survived and thrived. Glenveagh also contains Ireland’s largest herd of red deer.
- Connemara: Connemara is most famous for its wild Connemara ponies. According to popular folklore, these mammals originally descended from ponies brought over by the Vikings during the Dark Ages. Connemara also hosts a variety of birds, including chaffinches, kestrel, and snipe, during the warmer months.
- Ballycroy: Ballycroy National Park is a birdwatcher’s delight, hosting dippers, sandpipers, whooper swans, and rare predatory birds such as merlin and peregrine falcons.
Over 450 species of bird reside on the island country, most of which fly through on migratory journeys. Local organisations have set up multiple nature reserves in vulnerable areas, including estuaries, marshes, grasslands, and forests, to help protect some of the country’s most adored and threatened avifauna. A few examples of reserves are:
- Kicoole – Grassland behind a shingle beach.
- East Coast Nature Reserve – Murrough Wetlands
- Cuskinny Marsh – Shoreline lagoon, grassland, woodland
- Sheskinmore Lough – Shallow freshwater coastal lagoon set in machair (flat, sandy) grasslands.
- Bishop’s Island – Sallows (lowland grassland) subject to spring flooding
Many other reserves exist in the country. Some particularly sought-out species found within these areas are:
While many of these beautiful, interesting birds do nestle into natural areas, many common species are also found in locals’ gardens and backyards, making Ireland an exciting place for bird watching.
While land scenery of Ireland is truly one of a kind, the surrounding coastlines and ocean offer great opportunity for fishing, along with the inland rivers and lakes. Listed below are some of the top spots for fishing in Ireland:
- Cork Harbor – Lined with fishing boats, it is quite obvious that this natural harbour is an excellent area for fishing. Popular species caught here include sea bass, mullet, blonde ray, pollack, conger eel, and blue shark.
- Lakeland Fishery – Three stocked, freshwater lakes offer a quiet, promising spot for carp fishing. Overnight stays are possible through rental lodging.
- The Great Western Lakes – The limestone base of these lakes makes the water alkaline, leading to higher productivity and faster growth rates of fish. The lakes are especially good for trout and salmon fishing.
- Lough Currane – Lough Currane can be considered one of the best trout and salmon fishing spots because it lies directly upstream from the ocean. Wild brown trout populations are high in these waters. Fly fishing is the most popular method of catch here. White-tailed sea eagles were reintroduced to the area, making the it popular for birdwatching, as well.
- The River Moy – Fly fishing, spinning, and bait fishing the Moy prove fruitful for catching salmon, as the river is known to be the country’s most productive salmon fishing hotspot, reeling in over 6,000 salmon per year. Large salmon swim the river in spring, averaging nine pounds. Spring salmon run April to June, while smaller, summer salmon are more prominent in July.
Deep sea fishing and freshwater fishing are both rewarding in Ireland and sightseeing is easy on these excursions.
Even though snake species have made their way to Britain, no snake species exist in Ireland and there are no recorded fossils of snakes in the country.
The Most Dangerous Animals In Ireland Today
Contemporary Ireland has a few dangerous types of animals. Until the beginning of the 18th century, however, grey wolves were common throughout much of Ireland. According to popular folklore, Cormac Ulfada, the most famous of the ancient High Kings of Ireland, was raised by grey wolves and was fluent in their speech.
Wolves and humans maintained an uneasy truce until the decade after Oliver Cromwell conquered Ireland and an enormous amount of anti-wolf legislation was passed. Historical facts show that professional wolf hunters swarmed into Ireland from all parts of Europe, and today, wolves are extinct on the Emerald Isle. The last wild wolf in Ireland is reported to have been killed in 1786.
Zoos in Ireland
Ireland offers stunning views of architecture, natural landscapes, and beautiful wildlife, proving an exceptional travel destination. Adding to the draw are the zoos, wildlife parks, and aquariums that visitors can explore to gain a better understanding of local and exotic flora and fauna. Here are some of the top rated zoos to visit in Ireland:
- Dublin Zoo – The Dublin Zoo was founded in 1831 by a group of private physicists and anatomists. The London Zoo was the main donator of original species. Now, the zoo features over 600 animals of different species, all in enclosures resembling natural habitats. Animals reside in social groups and are capable of breeding and reproducing on their own. The Dublin Zoo is a registered charity and partners with zoos around the world with the goal of furthering conservation efforts. Animal species include elephants, wolves, colourful birds, sloths, and many others.
- Belfast Zoo – Sitting on 55 acres of land, the Belfast Zoo offers an extensive list of animals for viewing purposes. The zoo suffered damage during WWII but was able to rebuild and bring in more species, now holding around 120 different species. The Belfast Zoo aids conservation efforts around the world and is constantly improving its own systems.
Both zoos mentioned provide an incredible way to spend time in while in the country learning about animals and worldwide conservation work. Other aquariums and wildlife parks are available to visit, as well.
Irish Animals List
- Apple Moth
- Arctic Char
- Barn Owl
- Barn Swallow
- Bed Bugs
- Biscuit Beetle
- Black and White Warbler
- Black Widow Spider
- Brown-banded Cockroach
- Brown Dog Tick
- Camel Cricket
- Carpenter Ant
- Codling Moth
- Common Buzzard
- Common Frog
- Common Furniture Beetle
- Common House Spider
- Common Loon
- Common Raven
- Common Toad
- Crab Spider
- Dog Tick
- Dung Beetle
- Edible Frog
- European Polecat
- European Robin
- Fallow deer
- False Widow Spider
- Flying Squirrel
- Fruit Fly
- German Cockroach
- Glass Lizard
- Glen Of Imaal Terrier
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Hawk Moth Caterpillar
- Highland Cattle
- Honey Bee
- Huntsman Spider
- Irish Setter
- Irish Terrier
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Irish WolfHound
- Jumping Spider
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Long-Eared Owl
- Long-Tailed Tit
- Marsh Frog
- Night Heron
- No See Ums
- Orb Weaver
- Ortolan Bunting
- Peppered Moth
- Peregrine Falcon
- Pike Fish
- Pine Marten
- Pond Skater
- Pool Frog
- Purple Emperor Butterfly
- Puss Moth
- Raccoon Dog
- Red Kite
- River Turtle
- Sable Ferret
- Sand Crab
- Sand Lizard
- Sea Eagle
- Sea Roach
- Skink Lizard
- Slow Worm
- Smokybrown Cockroach
- Snowy Owl
- Song Thrush
- Spadefoot Toad
- Spider Wasp
- Stick Insect
- Tiger Beetle
- Tiger Moth
- Tree Frog
- Water Buffalo
- Water Vole
- Wheaten Terrier
- White Ferret / Albino Ferrets
- Willow Warbler
- Winter Moth
- Wolf Spider
- Woodlouse Spider
- Zebra Mussels
Ireland FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kinds of animals live in Ireland?
Many unique types of wildlife live and have lived in Ireland. They include the pine marten, the Irish elk, the Irish hare, the red deer, and ten resident bat species.
What dangerous animals live in Ireland?
The predatory grey wolves that were endemic to Ireland became extinct approximately 250 years ago. If you really want the facts, the most dangerous animals living in Ireland today are probably humans.
Does Ireland have bears?
Ireland had brown bears as recently as the last Ice Age. They are extinct now.
Does Ireland have snakes now?
Whether or not you believe the popular folklore tale that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, it’s quite true that Ireland has no native snakes. It does have a native reptile species called Zootoca vivipara that looks like a small snake. The endemic Zootoca vivipara is actually a species of legless lizard.
What animals are native to Ireland?
The Irish hare, the Connemara pony, the red fox, the pygmy shrew, and the red deer are among the unique fauna that is native to Ireland.
What is the rarest animal in Ireland?
At one time, the pine marten was widely distributed throughout all of Ireland. Today, the weasel-like animal can only be found in a few places near the Emerald Isle’s western coast and in its midlands. Biologists estimate that Ireland’s pine marten population is down to only 2,700 individuals.